A number of abortion-related measures instituted during George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House could face early reversal by the incoming Barack Obama administration.
Among the decisions the new administration will weigh are whether to cut funding for sexual abstinence programs, to boost funding for sex education programs that include discussions of birth control, and to allow federal health plans to pay for abortions, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Members of the Obama transition team are already mapping out strategy to undo a “right of conscience” regulation the Bush administration is issuing this week, which will allow medical staffers to refuse to participate in any practice they object to on moral grounds, including abortion and birth control counseling.
Federal law has for decades allowed doctors and nurses to decline to participate in abortions. Under the new regulation, all health-care workers can refuse to provide information, such as a referral, to patients seeking an abortion.
One of Obama’s first moves after taking office is expected to be an executive order eliminating Bush’s restrictions on funding for research that uses embryonic stem cells.
“We have a lot of work to do to fix the damage the Bush administration has done,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the Journal.
Anti-abortion activists are expected to most strongly oppose the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which could codify Roe v. Wade into federal law and nullify virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion. Obama has said that he would sign the bill, although it’s doubtful that there are enough votes in Congress to pass the measure.
Denise Burke, a vice president with the anti-abortion organization Americans United for Life, has called FOCA “a radical attempt to enshrine abortion-on-demand into American law, to sweep aside existing laws that the majority of Americans support — such as requirements that licensed physicians perform abortions, fully-informed consent, and parental involvement — and to prevent states from enacting similar protective measures in the future.”
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